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Monday, October 3, 2022
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Getting a grip…. at high speed

T&FME takes to the Dubai Autodrome track to push Bridgestone’s Potenza and BMW’s M Series to the limit

Bridgestone and BMW AGMC recently entered into what they are calling a strategic partnership to match the powerful BMW M Series cars with the Japanese tyre-maker’s performance brand Potenza.

The tyre itself has earned a solid reputation for offering superb grip in dry conditions, opening up the possibility for quick handling and sharp turning. So, where better to test this behind the wheel than on a warm early Spring day in Dubai’s auto-home?

Arriving early (for once), T&FME was soon at a track-side media conference held at the Dubai Autodrome, where the two companies explained that Bridgestone will be supplying AGMC’s new BMW M Series with their Potenza tyres. During which we were told that the tyres “offer unsurpassed traction and control, allowing customers to fully experience the thrill of driving.

“The tyres are designed to enhance driver experience, while also empowering cars to achieve their full potential. This high-performance tyre’s tread design has also incorporated new, sustainable technology to improve braking and abrasion resistance.”

“At Bridgestone, we recognise the power of teamwork as a cornerstone of success, and are moving strongly in this direction of partnership, leadership, and excellence,” said Stefano Sanchini, regional managing director of Bridgestone Middle East and Africa.

“We are confident in the capability of our Potenza tyres to maximise the potential of the BMW’s M-Series. At Bridgestone, we are committing to creating more efficient mobility solutions and services than ever before. Our tyres are future oriented, sustainable, and focused on meeting the demands that may arise over the next two to five years, and beyond.”

Jochen Becht, AGMC spokesperson, marketing director, Rolls-Royce, BMW, MINI said that the firm was delighted to announce what we called an exciting partnership alongside Bridgestone.

“Our M vehicles are all about unlocking potential when it comes to power and driving dynamics and with the Potenza tyre we have another market-leading product to help us achieve this.

“Having trust in a tyre is critical when maximising performance so the traction and control the Potenza offers fits perfectly alongside the M Series. We know the incredible capability of our vehicles and are proud to work alongside a partner who can help us even further enhance the driving experience for our M Series customers. We are heading to establish
AGMC as the pinnacle for driving experience in Dubai and northern Emirates and are very delighted to found in Bridgestone a strong partner to help us in achieving our goals.”
With the formalities out of the way, it was time to don helmets and move downstairs to the awaiting 3 and 5 M Series BMWs that were waiting in the paddock.

The BMW M Power Experience is intended to offer drivers a taste of what it feels like to master a car in racing conditions.

In Europe, enthusiasts are encouraged to take a BMW M model “to the limit – to feel one time like a genuine racing driver” and it made sense for AGMC to bring the experience to a performance car and auto-fans hub like Dubai when it was first announced on a 12-month basis last March.

The drift- and circuit training courses are part of the supreme disciplines of the BMW M Driving Experience whether on asphalt or snow and ice in Germany. While drivers here won’t be careering around the Alpine-bound Red Bull Ring or the world-famous Nürburgring Nordschleife, they are offered a total of 10 vehicles comprising of the BMW M2 Competition, the BMW M3 Competition, the BMW M4 Competition, the BMW M5 Competition and the BMW 330.

The Experience also provides a drivers with an in-depth three-and-a-half-hour safety driving course, where instructors will teach and guide guests to become even better drivers while pushing the BMW M vehicles to their limit in a controlled environment. During the course, guests can also practice essential motorsport driving techniques, such as seating position, posture, accelerating, braking and cornering. Upon completion, participants will receive feedback and a certificate at the end of a gruelling but exhilarating session around the FIA sanctioned circuit.

Unfortunately, the briefing on this occasion was a short overview on what to expect in the vehicle, including how to get the best out of both car and tyre on a truncated version of the 5.39km track.

Opting for the more statesman-like 5-Series – a car which is associated with limo and
luxury car hire in the Emirate through companies such as Emirates Bus and Quick Lease – there was little chance to appreciate the more refined points of the vehicle but plenty of track time to appreciate how its M- variant can handle the undulating course (seriously, this would be one of heck of a quick ride to the airport).

The short-version of the Autodrome circuit still includes the dipping, curving departure from the finishing straight which was an immediate test for both brakes and tyres as the car headed into the apex. And it was here that the Potenza really came the fore, taking on all of the front weight of the car and providing the grip coming out of the corner to paw into the 300bhp that sits under the bonnet.

With automatic transmission as standard, it is easy to see even a moderately experienced commuter could take on the course. There was no fiddling with down or upshifting here just the pleasure of being able to throw the car into the corners with it quickly coming apparent that the Potenza can offer even a bit of drift and wiggle room for mistakes.

By the second lap, the heads-up display was readily dialling up beyond 200 km/h before crunching onto the carbon ceramic brakes and a racing rhythm was emerging with the car easily slipping in and out of the corners. Power and brake, power and brake – and then more power as we took on the rising final chicane and corners and into the home straight.

As a demonstration of both BMW’s and Bridgestone’s track-craft, the Experience had done the trick. And you can easily see the two powerhouse brands sticking together – in more ways the one – in the Autodrome for years to come.

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Stephen Whitehttps://truckandfleetme.com/
Stephen White was formerly editor of Big Project ME.
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